Christian Samizdat?

Speaking of Solzhenitsyn. . . .At the Circe conference, Barbara Elliott spoke about the role of writers in bringing down Soviet Communism, something she documents in her book Candles Behind the Wall.

Though Writers and Artist Unions could give creative folks a good, prestigious living as long as they conformed to socialist ideology, those who did not were consigned to prison camps or insane asylums. (When I was in Estonia, I attended a birthday party for a poet who had just been released from a mental hospital where he spent many years for writing an anti-communist poem.)

A number of dissidents, though, resolved to bypass the totalitarian culture and create a “second culture.” They would write novels, short stories, plays, essays, and create other works of life that were committed to just “telling the truth” about life under communism. They would bypass the official publishing houses and distribute their work via secret printing presses and illegal copy machines. This was called “samizdat,” or “self-publishing.” People would get a manuscript, read it, then make more copies and distribute them to their friends. After awhile, denizens of the communist empire began seeing through the lies and fallacies of the regime until they no longer took communist ideology seriously. Eventually, the communist house of cards collapsed in an unprecedented peaceful revolution.

Do you think the time might come–or is now here–when Christians might oppose and undermine our secularist culture with a samizdat movement that promotes a “second culture”? This would entail not just writing evangelistic stuff that could not be published in the mainstream but “telling the truth” about the culture today. I could see stories that reveal what abortion is, satires of contemporary education, critiques of the intellectual establishment, films that anatomize what is happening to our families, poems against sexual immorality, music and art that express a Biblical worldview, and on and on.

The process of Samizdat is easier now than ever with the internet giving, in effect, everyone a printing press and a distribution outlet. Most Christian writers and artists currently seem to be caught in the syndrome of trying to make it in the mainstream or of trying to find commercial success. What if Christians set aside commercialism entirely and created for free? Obviously, things are not so bad yet as under the Soviet Union, but are there things Christians could learn from Solzhenitsyn and company?

The pen over the sword

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died at 89. The literary giant, a Christian, did much to overthrow Soviet Communism through his novels and his nonfictional exposes of the gulag, which Sozhenitsyn had experienced first hand. He demonstrates how the pen really can be more powerful than the sword.

Six Degrees of Separation

You know that assertion that any given person is six degrees of separation away from any other person in the world (that usually being Kevin Bacon)? That is to say, you know someone whose circle of acquaintances includes someone whose circle of acquaintances includes [repeat as needed, up to six times]. . .Kevin Bacon?

Well, this is apparently true, confirmed by a vast study of millions of text messages, with any two people being connected within 6.6 networks. So actually, it’s closer to seven degrees of separation. But still. . . .See Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon – washingtonpost.com.

Celtic Christianity?

To continue our discussion on different expressions of church that people are exploring today, what about Celtic Christianity? Many “post evangelical” Christians are experimenting with various elements of Celtic spirituality. I know a Baptist whose church, she says, uses a “Celtic liturgy.” I don’t know many specifics. Could someone explain what Celtic spirituality entails?

The Vice-President game: Democrat edition

The help we give to the Republicans we will also offer to the Democrats. Who should Barack Obama choose for his running mate?

Is there a Vice-Presidential choice that would make you MORE open to Obama? (Michael Gerson makes the case for the ex-missionary pro-life governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter.) If you are leaning in Obama’s direction, is there a pick that would make you LESS likely to support him?

Whoever mentions the name of the person whom Obama ACTUALLY chooses will win an imaginary crown of victory.

The Vice-President game: GOP edition

Carl Vehse proposes that we talk about who John McCain should select for Vice President, going so far as to promote a candidate:

Let’s talk about McCain and who he might chose for his VP. The Daily Time Herald in Carroll, IA, has one suggestion – Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Check out her credentials: Pro-life, NRA member, point guard of the 1982 State Champion Wasilla Warriors, Miss Wasilla of 1984, animal fur wearing, moose-burger-eating, snowmobile rider, obligatory Mid-East tourist, new mom, and has a possible campaign staff.

Moose-burger-eating! She sounds good to me. Do we have any other nominations from the floor?

Is there a Vice-Presidential choice that would make you either MORE likely to support McCain or LESS likely to support him?

Whoever mentions the name of the person whom McCain ACTUALLY chooses will win an imaginary crown of victory.


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